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Preview: Déja Vu All Over Again

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Entering the second of two consecutive matches against FC Dallas, the Whitecaps face a familiar foe as they grapple with familiar concerns and familiar consequences.

The American on the Canadian team meets the Canadian on the American team. Freaky!
The American on the Canadian team meets the Canadian on the American team. Freaky!
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

FC DALLAS vs. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
October 14th, 6pm at Toyota Stadium (TSN, MLS Live)

Dallas: 51pts (15W-10L-6D, 1st in Western Conference, 2nd Overall)
Vancouver: 50pts (15W-12L-5D, 3rd in Western Conference, 4th Overall)

~

So we meet again, FC Dallas - or as I'm going to call you from now on, Y'Auld Enemy (apologies to England/Scotland fans everywhere). I've seen this film, played this song, stepped to this dance; all of this has happened before and will happen again. Two teams, very similar in construction and modus operandi, head into the post-season looking to position themselves as best they possibly can to get a favourable playoffs opponent. Pride is on the line, too, in case that needed to be stated in a matchup that may be the first true rivalry to result from the MLS era. It's everything you could ask for from a playoff match and, if the dice fall properly, it very well may be one come November. Consider this the preview of what's to come, then, and what a preview it's been.

A nil-all result in the first leg of a two-legged result favours the road team in the decisive match. A single goal scored immediately breaks all ties and puts a great onus on the home team to produce a result. It can be argued, then, that the 0-0 result on October 7th was a positive in preparing the Whitecaps for the proper post-season mentality: whatever you do, don't concede at home. Yes, we can (and should) panic about the goal-scoring woes plaguing the 'Caps. Yes, we can wring our hands about the prospect of facing the likes of Mauro Diaz in their home stadium, complete with home temperature and home soccer museum - we all remember what happened the last time the 'Caps were there. That's all well and panic-worthy, sure, until you look at Vancouver's recent record against the Hoops. Zero goals conceded over 180 minutes. Zero. Not a single goal has crept past David Ousted from a squad boasting such legitimately lethal talent as a newly minted Colombian senior international and a newly minted Canadian senior international. Heck, the former is even drawing unsubstantiated, easily-shot-down rumours about a move to England which is a sure sign of recognized talent if ever there was one. Still not impressed? How about if we remember that the nil-all draw happened without defensive talisman and yellow card magnet Kendall Waston? Considering how suspect the play of Pa-Modou Kah has been and how Sir Not-Appearing-On-This-Pitch Diego Rodriguez has been, that's a huge mark on the positive side of the ledger for the Whitecaps. Well, mostly Tim Parker. Actually, probably entirely Tim Parker. Hm, how soon until we can cap-tie him to Canada? Five-ish more years assuming he dodges a call-up to the USMNT? I'll wait. Don't tell me it's a pipe dream! Don't tell me I'm being unrealistic! I have to hope for someth-

-hm? Oh! Yes, the match. Sorry.

Right, back to the preview. Having established that Tim Parker the defense is a strength for the Whitecaps going into this match, let's look at the many, many weaknesses - or, in the interest of saving you a 3,000-word essay, two. First, health; as was pointed out earlier by Jon Szekeres, Vancouver is a collection of walking wounded going into the final two regular season matches. Pedro Morales may not see another minute of action due to his injuries and his natural replacements are also injured. In fact, none of the three central playmakers made the trip to Texas, joining a injury corps that has left Carl Robinson with no option but to dress what remains of his roster. Some reports have Robbo sending less than a full eighteen-player roster to Frisco, with fingers and toes crossed that the international call-up brigade is miraculously left unscathed from Tuesday's matches and available for Wednesday's match. To be clear, it is highly unlikely that Waston, Kianz Froese, Marco Bustos and Sam Adekugbe will dress for the Dallas showdown. Unlikely doesn't mean impossible, though, and if desperate times call for desperate measures, don't be too surprised if you see a bag-eyed, road-weary face half-asleep on the substitutes' bench Wednesday afternoon.

As for the second weakness, do I really have to spell it out? Fine: G-O-A-L-S. Six goals in the last seven games is not nearly enough in the stretch drive of the season - oh, how I long for the days of "five cup finals" and the find-a-way-to-score-and-win-somehow-someway mentality - especially considering the record in the previous seven games was sixteen. So, where have the goals gone? See previous weakness: injured players are not reliable goal-scorers. Without decent service or anyone halfway competent to knock said service on target (we'll worry about the back of the net after we nail down the on-target accuracy), you can forget counting on a two-goal performance the likes of which we'd become accustomed to for a while. Heck, even a smash-and-grab, one-goal road performance - a former staple of the 2015 Whitecaps arsenal - might be too large an ask barring Robert Earnshaw falling into a heretofore undiscovered fountain of youth and going ham, cheese, turkey and biscuits for 90 minutes.

(For our older readers, "going ham" is a phrase the kids today use to describe a formidable, dominant, jaw-dropping performance. Adding more foodstuffs after ham indicates just how ludicrously incredible said performance was.)

In short: I'd be happy with a 0-0 draw. I'd be ecstatic with a 1-0 win. I'm not optimistic about either. I am sick of the "dur dur they never won in Texas so they never will dur dur" narrative, though, and the 'Caps have made quite a few records fall this season. We could very well see a positive result in Frisco for the Canadian visitors. We likely won't.

PREDICTION: 1-0 Dallas, followed by crowing and gushing from the American media about Dallas' model youth development system and how great they are and aren't they so amazing and SHUT UP I HATE THEM I HATE THEM I HATE THEM JUST SHUT UP ALREADY AAAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHH.